Sunday, December 14, 2008

Being in the Holiday Spirit

We're excited to announce that, by popular demand, we are now able to offer the lessons of the Course of Training to Spanish-speaking students. Our dear friend Marta, who has worked with us for many years in the past, has begun translations and the first lessons are available in Spanish beginning January 1, 2009. We are grateful to Marta and to all our friends in Spain, Mexico, and other countries, who have helped to get the word out to people. If you know of someone who might be interested in receiving translated lessons, or if you would like to send a gift subscription in English or Spanish, please contact us at drbutler.course@gmail.com. (for Spanish: drbutler.cursoesp@gmail.com).

It is significant that we can meet together this way and participate in a dialogue of such a high and profound nature. We have a divine place right here devoted to positive living, unconditional loving, and exploring the deeper realms of the inner Self. In each moment we have a clean slate. It is up to us from this moment onward.

Unless you are totally new here, you are aware that this blog serves as an introduction to the Course of Training, Living in the Truth of the Present Moment, available by email. For information about the course, write to the email address at the bottom of this post.

Many are currently enjoying the lessons of the course and have reported remarkable changes in their state and experience of life in a relatively short time. If you like the blog, you'll love the course, and hopefully that is intuitively obvious.

The Course of Training explores how the ancient principles of Truth can be practically applied to all the various aspects of daily life—career, work, relationships, dealings with other people of any nature. See the first July entry of this blog for a list of topics covered in the various sections of the course.

You can also receive the first month of the course free of cost, simply by writing to us and requesting it. The course consists of 2 lessons a month, and when you “try out” the first two lessons it will be obvious whether the principles explored there seem relevant to your life.

On the other hand, it takes the average person about two years or so before beginning to fully recognize and appreciate the course for what it actually is, but that is another story altogether. Let's simply say the course consists of more than mere words online or printed on paper, and thankfully every now and then someone above average comes along.

The principles of Truth are universal laws that apply equally to all times, places, and people. They were known and understood by enlightened beings long before any of the major religions of the modern world were even formed. Three centuries before the Christ taught his profound philosophy for better living, a great Master known as Vivekananda (in English “Vivekananda” translates as “the bliss of discrimination”) said: How can a person know anything until he first knows himself?

The principles of Truth are the basis of all religions and philosophies, yet in themselves they have not been twisted or distorted into any particular religious doctrine or sectarian dogma. They are free of any “ism” or “ology.” They are reduced to the utmost simplicity and clarity.

Anyone in the world can practice the principles of Truth in his or her own life simply by understanding how they function to determine our perception and experience of life.

We meet here on the blog as a way of sharing current times together, as a means for staying in touch, and as a "question and answer session" in the comments following each entry. We are entering the holiday season, with both Christmas and Hanukka coming up later this month, and for many people throughout the world this is a special time of the year.

If love, kindness, generosity, gentleness, cheerfulness, and greater awareness of our true nature are heightened during the seasonal celebrations, then they serve a great purpose.

Certainly the Christ, the great Jewish Master whose birthday we celebrate at Christmas, would exhort us to live in such ways, for he himself was an embodiment of love and compassion.

During my younger days I was driving late one night along the country roads between Jamestown, NY, and Erie, PA, and I passed a sign that said: Jesus came to save sinners.

Being raised as a Southern Baptist, I had heard such ideas all my life. Yet suddenly I understood a whole new meaning to the idea of saving sinners.

From a yogic point of view (yoga literally meaning “union”), there is no such thing as sin. The only true “sin” would be the consciousness of sin. When we see sin in others or ourselves, or consider others or ourselves as sinners—which includes all blame and making wrong—then we create sin in our life, as well as imposing our own “sinful” standards onto others in our world.

Actually, from a yogic point of view, the only possible practical meaning for “sins” would be the samskaras (conditioned tendencies) that are habitually destuctive, harmful, unkind, or imposing patterns of behavior. When we lose awareness of these little buggers, and they get out of control, they can cause all sorts of “hell” in our life that we could just as easily live without if we were free from them.

In the course we explore all aspects of breaking free from conditioning, yet I warn you in advance, it requires true discipline to actually see results in one's life.

Not the discipline to eat more healthily or to exercise more regularly, or even to practice hatha yoga or to actually sit for meditation. What is required is the discipline to live now the way we know is right to live.

It is not a discipline that takes "time" to master; it is a discipline that can be applied only in the present moment.

Do we live as we consciously choose, or are we controlled by subconscious tendencies (samskaras)?

Ah, that is the question. And the only time it can be asked or answered is right now.


What's more, we can only ask it of ourself, and we can only answer it for ourself. No one else's answer is relevant to us. Each person has his or her own inner work to do, whether he or she is currently conscious of it or not. There are definite reasons that we are alive in physical bodies on Earth. Are we aware of what these specific reasons are? Do we know what we are here for?

The Christ explained it clearly when he said: Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.

Where is this “kingdom of God” that we should seek first? The Master located it quite specifically when he said: The kingdom of God cometh not with observation; neither shall they say, Lo here! nor Lo there! for behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Like people today, the people during the time of the Christ thought they were living in hard times. In fact, throughout history people have commonly thought that they lived during hard times. It is simply the way of the world. We didn't come to the land of karma to take a vacation or to be on a picnic.

We could live that way, but it would require full awareness and presence, and an exalted appreciation of each moment exactly as it is.

Once we want to change something, or think something should be changed, the ego is involved once again.

We are playing a virtual reality game of a human experience, but we've forgotten it is a game and were never taught the rules (laws, principles, regarding the true nature of something, or how something works.) Instead the ego interprets the input of the senses around the story it has created of its "own life." Then we have the ego thinking it is an entity unto itself.

In this way a false entity arises that we identify with as being who we are, yet in reality that entity exists only in imagination. Only when we are free from the influence of ego can we be free.

When the people during the time of the Christ said they were poor and hungry, he advised them: What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.

This was the most practical advice he could have given them. He was explaining how to direct creative energy, and this is the most proven method for improving, expanding, or refining one's lot in life on any level. There must first be a belief in the heart, in feeling, before the corresponding experience or condition can exist outwardly, objectively, in our personal life. Unfortunately, many of us are invested in believing in the very things that make us miserable. All this is explored in detail in the lessons of the Course of Training.

May you enjoy the happiest of holidays this year. I joyfully affirm the radiant health and exalted well-being of each person who reads this.

Our greatest responsibility in life is our own happiness, and that is also the greatest contribution we can offer to others, for happiness is contagious, and can be passed to others through a cheerful attitude and lighthearted approach to all relationships.

My love and good wishes go with you.

For more information about the Course of Training by D. R. Butler, write: drbutler.course@gmail.com

22 comments:

joanelyia said...

Thanks D.R. for the timely message. Every holiday season I find myself caught up in the spirit. Not of frenzied shopping or last minute deals, but in the spirit of looking inside and seeing what I can offer to those around me. When you said "Our greatest responsibility in life is our own happiness, and that is also the greatest contribution we can offer to others, for happiness is contagious, and can be passed to others through a cheerful attitude and lighthearted approach to all relationships." I had to agree completely. I have found that giving makes me happy. So, case in point, I picked an angel off of the tree in the grocery store so that I could purchase some presents for a needy child. I happened to be with a very close friend when I dropped the presents off. My friend was so effusive in her praise for me that I was embarrassed. So, if I know that giving makes me happy, and I use that as my reason to give, aren't I missing something important? Shouldn't my concern be for that needy child? I mean, if I'm doing it to make myself happy, it seems very self centered. Hope this made sense and that you can help me understand my confusion.

Anonymous said...

Joanelyia, it's ok to be happy, giving is fun, I enjoy it too. You feel weird because that person praised you, when you were doing the right thing anyway! People are like that. Just keep on giving and maybe more folks will catch on! love to all L. L.

D. R. Butler said...

Welcome, Susan, and thanks for your post. I am happy that you enjoy the blog.

Joanelyia, I enjoyed your question. You know, giving to others is expansive and makes us happy. Clinging, clutching, and desperately seeking contracts us and makes us miserable. This is simply the way of life.

Please don't enforce a guilt trip on yourself because you find happiness in generosity. Just enjoy it. The enjoyment is God's own enjoyment in the act of giving, which is His favorite act of all. You don't even have to claim the happiness as your own, although it is fine if you do. Simply see it as God's happiness--which it always is anyway, regardless of how we consider it.

Remember that guilt is the worst thing. The guilt itself is always worse than whatever we are feeling guilty about. This is one feeling we need to completely eradicate, for it serves no useful or positive purpose.

The inner Self never feels guilty. It is always pure and pristine. The actions of the body, the emotions of the feeling nature, and the thoughts of the mind do not affect the pure and pristine nature of the inner Self.

Remain focused on what is eternally real, and enjoy the small and large moments of life for what they are. In the end, it is all God's play. We are simply here for the ride, so enjoy the show.

Ari said...

Hi Ram and all. Hope everyone is bringing their best to the festive season. It's interesting how we have conditioned ourselves to bring our happiness to this time when really it would be beneficial to do so at all times.

Their seems to be a focus in the lesson on relationships which is great. In the world we live in it seems to be front and centre for most people. They also appear to be a lot of work and seem to bring a lot of difficulty in people's lives.

Ram why do you think we are so attracted to relationships? Is it karmic? Do we think the person is going to "complete" us?

I remember living alone for a long time. Life seemed so simple. But mabe I am not remembering the difficult times.

D. R. Butler said...

Ari, I think anyone involved in a relationship would have to laugh after reading your last paragraph. Yes, life does seem simple when we live alone, doesn't it?

Of course, many people who live alone wish they could find someone nice to live with. They meet someone interesting, start things going in one way or another, and see how wonderful is the bliss of another person. So they move in together.

Before too long, something quite different and unexpected happens. This other person who seemed so perfect in the beginning suddenly begins to display undesirable traits. In fact, they might even manifest in the very ways that we always most hated or feared. Suddenly life feels very complicated.

Yes, the Course of Training focuses a lot on relationships, because when it comes down to it, our interactions with others during the day is foremost on the list of most people's activities. Our life revolves largely around the other people in it. So the Course focuses a lot of living in harmony with each other.

Relationships are indeed karmically determined. It is our karma to come in contact with certain people and not other people. It is not determined by chance or coincidence nearly as much as we might sometimes think.

The Course focuses so much on relationships because, strange as it seems, relationships are our primary arena of sadhana or spiritual work and growth. A major aspect of life is getting relationships right--or at least being in harmony with all who are attracted into our lives for whatever reason.

Relationships are a lot of work and do sometimes cause a lot of difficulty. Still, when we live alone it is too easy to hide our ego from ourselves, and therefore more difficult to evolve. In relationship, ego and samskaras are exposed and have to be dealt with and come into harmony with. All this is explored in great detail in the lessons of the Course.

We might think another can complete us, yet whether we think that or not, we can only complete ourselves. Depending on another for completion is a frustrating proposition at best. We find our ultimate fulfillment within ourselves, yet relationships with other people are usually the path we have to travel to get there.

The primary things in relationships of any nature are respect and harmony. Be respectful of all others, even if they are unable to be respectful of you or themselves. Come into harmony with all others in your life, even when they cannot manage to come into harmony with you.

Respect and harmony in relationships are among the primary keys to enjoying a life of joy and contentment. Above all things, where others are concerned, be respectful and remain in harmony within yourself.

rico said...

It has been my experience that whenever one gives something to another whether it is a Christmas gift for a child in need or volunteer service or any selfless giving, the giver invariably get more out of the experience than the receiver.

Bindu said...

So, 4 months into the Course and I want to shout it to the rooftops. This stuff works!!! Every day I am more and more astounded by the new understandings which actually “kick up” the delight level in and of my life. Some are so finely subtle, and some are so blatantly obvious I can’t believe I didn’t “see” them before. It is like the access to my own inner wisdom has become not only more clear but more easily available. My heart is more open and I am experiencing a more consistent awareness of Truth. My Christmas wish is that each of us be filled with profound love and gratitude for all that we are being given. Most specifically my thanks go out to our friend and teacher for his wonderful work.

With Love and best wishes for all
Bindu

Nathan said...

Following my first two readings of Lesson 8, I am beginning to get a new understanding about what the course actually seems to be. As I read I am getting glimpses of the grand scale of exactly what we are up to. I am experiencing a certain awe at the enormity of what is happening through the process of reading the lessons.

I knew that transformation was possible in this lifetime, but I never had such a palpable experience of it until now. Now I am actually experiencing an expansion of my perspective, and as you have said, upgrading our perspective transforms our experience of everything.

I was struck by this particular paragraph in Lesson 8: "We have to make a conscious effort to create a new way of thinking and feeling. This is real sadhana, true inner work: to immediately discard any thought of an unpleasant nature without further consideration. This is true discipline."

I am beginning to understand what you mean when you refer to "doing the work of the present moment." I can also see that refusing to consider any negativity, contraction, or limitation is indeed true discipline.

Thank you for making the profound so easy to understand and apply in one's life.

Ari said...

Just curious Ram as I read my lesson today. You have been doing practises for a long time. What has been the most difficult aspect of your journey for you to overcome in becoming closer to the self?
And secondly how do you measure the progress of your spiritual life?

D. R. Butler said...

Ari, you don't ask difficult questions, do you?
What has been the most difficult aspect to overcome? There is a long list in consideration for that particular honor.

Probably the most difficult aspect of my journey in becoming closer to the Self is the sense of duality, or "otherness." One of the first things that arose for me when I first saw your question was "other people." Still, we don't get lost in the illusion of other people--or objective humanity, as we explore in the lessons--unless we get caught in duality.

Being free of duality, we see the same Self everywhere and in everyone. Truly, the same Self peers from all these pairs of eyes. Do we recognize the Self in those eyes, or do we superimpose someone else?

Overcoming the sense of duality, there is only One, and everyone is equally a manifestation of the same One. Then we are truly free from praise and blame, for we know there is no external source for it to come from. Then if we are praised or blamed, publically or privately, it is the same--it means nothing.

Then when another is hostile, or ridiculing, or harsh, or makes us wrong, we simply see the play of the one Self--the Self in disguise trying to get us once again.

Being free from duality also has a lot to do with not taking anything personally. When we are free in this way, we can see everything simply for what it is, without referencing it in any personal way, or feeling that it reflects on us personally in any way.

Anyway, looking back, from my current perspective, just for the sake of answering your thoughtful question, I'd say duality has been my chief obstacle to overcome.

Jimi said...

I had to laugh when I read this question from Ari:
"And secondly how do you measure the progress of your spiritual life?"

This question was answered in my very first lesson back in 1985. D.R. said (I hope he forgives the paraphrasing...it was 23 years ago) that this was a common question & that if you were lighthearted & humorous, then you were progressing well. Of course being overly serious was a sign of not so much progress. Simply put, the "spiritual progress meter" could be said to have lightheartedness at the top & seriousness at the bottom.

D. R. Butler said...

Jimi's response reminded me that I failed to answer Ari's second question, although Jimi answered it pretty well himself.

It is true that lightheartedness is one of my major measures for spiritual progress. The more serious we are, the more we are caught in ego. Lightheartedness is free from ego, and I trust a lighthearted state much more than a serious state--which usually has its own agenda.

There are other measures for spiritual progress as well. Like our degree of presence in the present moment. If we are fully alert and aware here and now, aware of our physical movements and breath, we tend to be more developed than if we are constantly lost in thought and have only a vague awareness of present reality.

Also, there is freedom from thought, and from having to think. How wide is the space between thoughts? Can we live in the clear space between thoughts, or are we caught up in currents of thinking like a twig on the raging river? Are we free from the need to describe things, especially the past?

Also, there is freedom from ego. Are we free from reactivity and the constant need to explain ourselves to others? Are we nonjudgmental regarding ourselves and others? Being nonreactive is a biggie. As long as we automatically react to others in any way, or have to defend ourselves in any way....well, there is plenty of work to be done.

Anyway, hope this helps.

rico said...

Listing the measurements for spiritual growth is interesting but isn't it easy to fall into the trap of always checking to see if one measures up? Isn't this trap potentially limiting?

D. R. Butler said...

Yes, Rico, what you say is true. It is potentially limiting to see how you measure up. After all, only the ego wishes to measure up, or even cares to know how it measures up--the inner Self couldn't care less.

The best approach is to simply enjoy the bliss of wherever you are at. In any mental or emotional state, or in any mood, we can simply remember to enjoy the bliss of whatever is manifesting at the moment, without judging or rating the experience in any way.

Measuring up ultimately gets us nowhere. The only time we "get somewhere" is when we focus on the Truth of the present moment.

Nelson said...

Someone told me about your blog and I checked it out with some skepticism. I feel completely different after reading through it. I find it amazing that something of such power can exist on the Internet without anyone hardly knowing about it. Both my mood and feeling toward myself has changed since reading your words, and I imagine that after the holidays I will begin your course by email as well. May you receive great blessings for the good work you are doing, and thank you for making it so freely available.

Michael said...

I Would like to send my love, blessings, and appreciation to my dear friends following the path of love and our beloved Kay and D.R. for serving us with such love and devotion. It's amazing having this opportunity to merge through our study of Living in the Truth of the Present Moment. May your holiday season be filled with peace, love, joy, and gratitude. May you see God in others eyes reflecting back at you.

Steve said...

Holy cow, that was an incredible newsletter. I don't know why, but everything you're sending out now seems to have so much more power than in the past. I suppose it may have something to do with ripeness, but the words seem to be so spot on and filled with grace, and are obviously affecting many in a meaningful way.

For me, I experience the truth of potential, and it is extremely calming, yet exhilarating. Perhaps due to the season, I'm put in mind of a line from O Holy Night:

"...a thrill of Hope, a weary world rejoices; for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn."

Thank you for all that you are contributing to the world, thank you for your dedication. I hope you and Kay have wondrous holidays, and a refreshing New Year celebration.

William said...

One reading of the Christmas Newsletter blew my mind, stopped my mind, or whatever you call going way beyond the mind. There is something very interesting going on in your writings, D.R. You are coming from an entirely different space that you were when I last received your writings 6 years ago. Apparently something very powerful has happened to you, and it is showing up in your writings and their impact on others.

I also get it that you don't want it to be about you, that you want the focus on the principles of Truth. Hopefully you won't mind if I quote the newsletter where you say: "The principles do work, but we cannot describe conditions and situations one way and then expect them to actually be some other way. If we only insist that the present physical reality is all it can ever be, then we limit ourselves to the present physical reality."

There is something so obvious in that, so compellingly simple, yet it explains so much.

Just hoping you can keep at it for a while, D.R. You keep putting it out and you can know that at least a small band of us will be waiting on the other end with open minds and hearts. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and may you and Kay both enjoy the happiest of holidays.

chris said...

Lesson 8 says,"On the subject of passionate discussions, we need to make sure we understand what the other is actually saying. Sometimes we put
more of an emphasis on what we’re ‘hearing’ than what the other
person is actually saying. We have automatic tendencies to hear
things according to our own samskaras, our own conditioning. We
need to push through them and beyond them and develop the ability
to listen and to hear exactly what another person is saying."

Mea Culpa. Something D.R. said in the Christmas Newsletter really rubbed my religious sensibilities the wrong way and I immediately spun out an admittedly angry response to the blog (which, thankfully was not publicly posted). A phone call to a couple dear friends help me see more clearly and now, once again peace reigns in my heart. Maybe if I just read my lesson better and more often...

D. R. Butler said...

Speaking of "religious sensibilities," I recommend that anyone interested in the life of the Christ see the movie "Jesus in India." It is a documentary made in 2008, and it contains much interesting information from many perspectives regarding the "lost 18 years." It is certainly worth viewing.

Michael said...

As a director of music in the Catholic church, I've tended to dread "the holidays." Until this year. When I began the Course in August, I decided that I would use the principle of "what you think is what you get" in the best possible way I could imagine to create the "best Christmas ever." I am smiling as I write this, because I can honestly say that for the first time in twenty-four years I did, in fact, have the "best Christmas ever."

Not once did I give in to a worry that I might not meet someone else's expectations, that something "might go wrong," that "I am overwhelmed." Instead I kept telling myself, "I am having the best Christmas ever. My state has never been clearer. My mind is subtler than it has ever been, and I feel more finely attuned to joy and contentment than ever before!"

I wrote these and similar phrases on a folded sheet of paper and propped it on the music rack of the piano where I could refer to it throughout the four Christmas Masses. As I reread the words and held them in my heart, I could observe the ego shift its frequency to reflect that of the positive thoughts. And I knew, with absolute certainty, that I would continue to have a great day, no matter what happened, as long as I kept my thinking elevated and joyful.

I've kept it going since then and have continued to enjoy each day as "the best day of my life." As I think, so it must be. I fully expect that today will be great because my thinking gets better and better. I am having most fun applying these principles, as they really do work, and my family and co-workers have found me much better company because I am more relaxed and a better listener.

Let us all make this day a great one! Why not?

Love to you all, and thank you for your support by sharing this wonderful process of transformation. I don't know you all by name, but those of you who have embraced the teachings and are applying them are truly my brothers and sisters. We support each other in subtle ways every time we exercise these principles in our daily lives -- 2009 will truly be the best year of our lives!

D. R. Butler said...

A friend recently wrote to inform me that there is now a book out refuting Tolle's "New Earth" book. Well, so much for no "anti-Tolle" stuff. I suppose that anything I say that's relatively true will soon enough be relatively untrue if we only wait long enough for it to come around.

Thank God Tolle wrote a book so the refuter of it will have something to do with his life. You have to wonder what such a person does when he's not refuting. Those who read here regularly know that I'm not much into refuting. I say make a stand for your own Truth, and allow the next person the freedom to do the same. There's enough conflict in the world without making a case to refute another person's perspective.

But that's just me. My older son Jnani and his fiancee Paula were visiting here from LA last month, and the 4 of us were watching election returns on election night. Jnani and I were discussing something of a political nature, and he followed up something he had said by adding, "Just to add some balance."

I smiled and said, "Yeah, but I'm an extremist."

Jnani laughed, saying, "I know, Dad, I know."

Anyway, just want you folks to know where I'm coming from.

I will post the New Year's Day entry on the blog soon after midnight on New Year's Eve. Everyone have a happy.